Bunge nods for establishment of continental medicines agency

DODOMA: THE National Assembly on Tuesday endorsed a resolution for ratification of a treaty for establishment of the African Medicines Agency (AMA).

It seeks to offer assurance on the government’s commitment to guarantee quality-assured, safe and efficacious medical products that are fundamental to the health and safety of consumers.

The endorsement of the treaty follows the government’s decision to sign the treaty that was adopted by Heads of States and government during their 32nd Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) General Assembly on February 11, 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The African Medicines Agency aspires to provide support for the improvement of weak regulatory systems.

AMA also aim at building on efforts of the African Medicines Regulatory Harmonisation (AMRH) initiative (2009), which is led by the Africa Union Development Agency – the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD).

The AMRH initiative provides guidance to AU recognised Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Regional Health Organisations (RHOs), to facilitate harmonisation of regulatory requirements and practice among the national medicines authorities (NMRAs) of the AU Member States.

Tanzania became the 22nd AU Member State to sign the treaty on August 10, 2021, at the AU Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Therefore, the next stage was to ratify it.

Presenting the government’s recommendations on the establishment of the Treaty in the august House on Tuesday, the Minister of Health, Ummy Mwalimu asked legislators to give approval to AMA, insisting that its implementation would help the country to promote cooperation, partnership and recognition of regulatory decisions, as well as providing regulatory guidance, scientific opinions and a common framework for regulatory actions on medical products.

According to the minister, as of July 2023, about 30 countries had signed the Treaty for the establishment of AMA, out of which only 23 of them had ratified it. They include neighbouring Uganda and Rwanda.

The African Union Commission has continuously been encouraging all its member states to sign and ratify the Treaty for the establishment of the Agency.

Ms Mwalimu said that by ratifying the Treaty, the Tanzania Medicines and Medical Devices Authority (TMDA) will receive yet another boost in control of public health, safety and security.

“Despite the success that TMDA has recorded, still, there are several challenges in the control of medical equipment. Others are lack of enough experts, presence of unofficial loopholes especially at border posts and ports that are used to infiltrate substandard products,’’ she said.

The minister said that with the ratification of the Treaty, the country would strengthen systems for control of counterfeit products as well as help in seizing products smuggled in the country illegally.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly yesterday passed a resolution to endorse the Statute of International Renewable Energy Agency-(IRENA), which will help in speeding up investment and facilitate development of renewable energy resources in the country.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Energy, Dr Doto Biteko presented the document in the House, asking MPs to endorse it for the greater interests of the country.

When tabling the proposals to the House, Dr Biteko noted that the statute will also strengthen expertise, technology, research and understanding on renewable energy among policy makers and other stakeholders.

“The statute will enable the country to access key information on renewable energy but also allow Tanzanians to invest in other countries,” he said.

He also said the statute will strengthen availability of investment capital, technical advisory on development of the renewable energy sub-sector and access to affordable energy which is a key to economic development and poverty alleviation.

According to him, by endorsing the Statute, Tanzania was equally placing herself in safe hands when it comes to controlling the use of non-environmentally friendly sources of energy hence mitigating climate change effects but also promoting the use of environmentally friendly energy sources in line with global needs.

“It will also facilitate increased contribution of renewable energy to environmental preservation, through limiting pressure on natural resources,’’ he said.

Dr Biteko added that the Agency shall promote the widespread and increased adoption and the sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy, taking into account national and domestic priorities and benefits derived from a combined approach of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.

“The agency will help reduce deforestation, particularly tropical deforestation, desertification and biodiversity loss; to climate protection; to economic growth and social cohesion including poverty alleviation and sustainable development; to access to and security of energy supply; to regional development and to inter-generational responsibility,” he said.

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